|Poster:||Fact_Checker||Date:||Oct 2, 2011 9:03am|
|Forum:||feature_films||Subject:||Re: Are these public domain? / Son of the Sheik|
Oddly enough, Rohauer's opponent in the above lawsuit is Paul Killiam, who at this time already knew something about beating Rohauer where Rohauer's rights weren't firm, because Killiam's side proved that "Birth of a Nation" was in the public domain while Rohauer was claiming to hold copyright. In the case of "Son of the Sheik," however, Rohauer proved to hold valid underlying rights. Judging by the fact that the underlying work had copyright renewed in 1952, it must have been originally copyrighted 1924 or 1925, and thus may remain in copyright until 2020.
By the way, Rohauer's claim on "Birth of a Nation" was not as sketchy as some of the above remarks might suggest. There was a timely copyright renewal on the film itself, and for awhile Killiam thought he also held rights to that film in its second term. You can read more about this dispute elsewhere on the above cited web site (use the site map to find the "Birth of a Nation" case).
Just because Rohauer did go through contractual means to acquire supposed rights to "Birth of a Nation" doesn't mean he wasn't a scoundrel. I've read in a somewhat recent book on "Birth of a Nation" that Rohauer is reputed to have forced the surviving producer (one of the Aitkin brothers) to sign over his rights without payment on threat that Rohauer would go to the author's widow (Thomas Dixon owned 25% of the movie) and have her demand an audit that Aitkin wasn't prepared for.